Investigation into ‘irregularities’ in council procurement

Wednesday June 20th, 2012

Cheshire East Council is to appoint an independent investigator to look into alleged financial and legal irregularities regarding procurement of a waste facility at the Lyme Green depot in Macclesfield.

The council had been planning to build a new waste facility at the site in Macclesfield but stopped the project at the end of November 2011. An internal audit found evidence that officers failed to comply with rules to prevent financial and legal irregularities.

The audit committee said in its 97-page report published last week that construction work started on site before the necessary planning permissions had been secured, an issue about which the council’s own planning officers complained.

The council also broke rules around EU regulations for procurement by not offering for tender contracts over a certain value, the auditors claimed, leaving the council open to legal challenge from firms who may have wished to bid for work. The audit report stated: “Expenditure beyond the approved budget on the scheme was incurred and finance and contract procedure rules were broken. Officer delegations were exceeded”.

Michael Jones, Leader of the Council, today announced that he has sent to all members of the Staffing Committee, the CVs of four independent candidates to instigate investigations into staff behaviour. He has also issued instructions that in the absence of the Chief Executive, who remains off work, ill, the terms of reference will be set by the full cross-party Staffing Committee and that those terms of reference will be published.

“The investigator, once appointed will be encouraged to meet with all the staff mentioned in the report, Members, Cabinet Members and their support Members and any other appropriate witness”, said Councillor Jones.

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